TESTIMONIALS AND ENDORSEMENTS ENHANCE CREDIBILITY
Endorsements are a powerful marketing tool because they are credible. Everyone expects a business to say that it has great products, a great team and really delivers top quality service. But when a customer says the same thing, it’s a much more convincing statement. Especially if the customer is known and their opinion is valued.
The built in credibility of testimonials and referrals makes them more persuasive than almost any other kind of marketing. Even in industries that invest heavily in marketing to promote the features and benefit of their products many customers will still seek opinions from friends or associates before they buy.
ENDORSEMENTS MEAN BUSINESS
Entrepreneur.com reports an Internet survey of businesses, finding that two thirds of the participants received over 70 percent of their new business through referrals and word of mouth. This means increasing the frequency of referrals can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.
And yet, although endorsements are one of the most important selling tools you have for growing and expanding your business, they are almost always underused. Why are salespeople and everyone in business ought to be a salesperson so reluctant to ask for referrals? There are several reasons, the most common being:
• Fear of asking for one, or feeling uncomfortable about doing so;
• Don’t know how to put the request to the customer;
• Feel that ‘their work speaks for itself’ and satisfied clients will be out there recommending them without needing to be asked to do so;
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK
Testimonials are not as hard to get as you might think. For example, you might receive a glowing letter of appreciation from a customer. There may be a paragraph that you would like to use in your marketing material. You simply need to ask the customer if they are OK about you doing this.
It’s very important that you do ask. You could offend a client if they find that their private business correspondence has been used for a public purpose. If you get permission you’ll also be confident that the endorser will be happy to field occasional phone calls about your product or service.
STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT
The best time to ask for a testimonial is soon after the sale when the purchaser is excited that they have bought something that they really like. If it’s a major purchase you might have made a follow up call to check everything is OK. This is when you can ask for that testimonial.
If people agree to give you a testimonial then they are acting as de facto referees. It is important that you have been in touch with the endorser recently, so that you have confidence they will only say good things.
NETWORK FOR REFERRALS
Testimonials and endorsements are supported by good word of mouth. Word of mouth tends to have a life of its own but you can boost word of mouth by actively networking. You may do this already but if you do not then business associations, Business Network International, Rotary clubs are good places for referrals and testimonials.
GENERATE REFERRALS BY GIVING THEM
You’ll find that if you give referrals you will receive referrals. But make sure you offer referrals to businesses you trust, as you’ll suffer if you offer referrals to poor quality business.
STAY IN TOUCH
Stay in touch with your customers and ensure they remain aware of you. Raise your profile with your customers and the community in general. Form business alliances and so gain customers of businesses who deal with the same customer segment as yours. With agreement with your alliance partners you can piggyback on their mailing lists or they can include your brochures and or flyers in their mailings.
The main thing to remember about referrals and testimonials is that they are based on truth. If you consistently make your customers happy, then they’ll be pleased to give you testimonials and refer you to others.
About David Officen
David is the Founder and Managing Director of proCFO. David combines an accounting and consulting background with commercial experience both as a manager for large commercial businesses and as the owner of private and family businesses.